Why is it that people only feel good about themselves if they are making another human being feel like a piece of rotten roadkill? I admit it, I do the same thing — sometimes I seem to get great satisfaction out of other people’s weaknesses. It is most certainly arrogance and cruelty on my part, fuelled by a hideous lack of true self esteem — I admit it. But its not like everyone else doesn’t do this for the same reasons.
The proof of this is in the myriad of gossip magazines, usenet groups, mailing lists, websites, newspapers, and even people idle chatter — that is devoted to celebrity gossip.
We post to gossip channels, read magazines, join email lists devoted to celebrity gossip. We say scathing things, we scrutinise their every move — from outfits to opinions. We blame them for being too skinny, and yet all hell breaks loose when they are too “fat” (obviously a relative term). We praise them for their ‘wonderful’ bodies, only to find out they are bulimic 6 months down the line. We want to know who the father of Liz Hurley’s baby is, but not only that, we accuse her for being some sort of money-grubbing trickster. We mock Britney Spears (I’ll get to that later). We speculate on people’s marriages, and, the worst part — we believe the outright lies that are presented to us. Celebrity Gossip cuts across class, gender (yes, believe it or not!) and race. Why?
According to most psychologists, humans need to feel good about themselves and their position in society to be productive. And this is where I believe Celebrity Gossip fits in. Celebrities are beautiful. They are wealthy. They can do anything they want, because money and beauty and a lack of ‘connections’ are not barriers, like they are for most of us. They get to be spokespeople for the United Nations and adopt children from overseas. In other words, they get to do all the wonderful things that all of us would do if we had the same money and profile. How on earth are we supposed to feel good about ourselves while these people exist? I know I don’t! In a world that worships beauty over brains, people like me are destined to the middle classes — and the only greatness we can hope to achieve would be if, in 3000 years from now, we are seen as “thinkers”. Ha! I suppose if the Google archives count…
So, in comparison to celebrities, we all feel like worthless pieces of crap — cogs in the machine that make other people wealthy. Ben Elton refers to people like us as “farties” — people who aren’t beautiful or wealthy. People who have impeccable manners — who you couldn’t imagine doing a great big burp whilst sitting down to a microwave dinner. People that take home doggy bags from an expensive restaurant because it costs $120 for a meal and you can’t bear to throw it away. People who have a gruesome birth experience and walk around in public with baby vomit on their shirt and are most certainly not beaming with full makeup and a perfect body when their baby is 2 weeks old. I could go on for hours. To us, celebrities represent our dreams, our aspirations and our regrets.They represent everything we wish we were and everything most of us are not — even if we tried our absolute best.
So what we do is we tear them to shreds to make us feel better about ourselves. We would be horrified if our husbands or family said “oi, you’re looking a bit fat today” or “good lord…what the fuck are you wearing?”. Also, if you were walking up the street and everyone was looking at you and pointing, how would you feel? Thats right, you’d feel terrible. So why is it alright to do this to celebrities? When you post to usenet that scathing message, how do you know that they aren’t reading everything you say? And, if you knew they were reading it, would it make you rethink?
Take Britney Spears for instance. Now, those who know me know that I am not a fan. I also don’t dislike her at all — call me a casual “hummer” along to her music. My initial reaction to Britney Spears, is that she represents everything that is wrong with the music industry. I am someone with more formal music training and come from old-school that it is your ability to play an instrument or sing perfectly that makes you famous. Naive, I know. But, all the same, I appreciate singer/songwriters, like Lisa Loeb, Ben Folds, etc, where if you strip them down to just them and their instrument in an acoustic show, their prescence still knocks you over. I admit my biases there. And I emulate that music style — fine tuning the acoustic, solo performance so that everything else is just a bonus — it doesnt MAKE the musician — or make the song. So, I lay my biases on the table in that regard. But, Britney, if you ever wanted someone to give you some quality advice about where to go with your career, I’m here! 🙂
Issues of musical integrity aside (and I like some BS songs….), I think that the personal attacks on her and the scrunity are uncalled for. Comments of late (in various places) have started to become vindictive, callous, and just plain false. I often wonder that if people knew she was hurt by all of this if they would stop saying such horrible things about her. I know I would, because I can’t stand the though of my words hurting someone else, even if its a superstar that could buy and sell me on any day of the week! 🙂
Seriously though, how would we feel if we were put in that position? If I were Britney Spears (heh now THEREs a stretch for anyones imagination lol), I would seriously wonder if its all worth it — I mean, she’s made enough money to take care of herself and her family for the rest of her life. If she invested a lot of the money into her own label and signed other artists, she could do wonders. I really would be wondering if its all worth it. Here she is, 20 years old, a multi millionaire, with a myriad of options available to her. There would have to come a time when you wonder if its worth it. I personally believe that Britney should learn to play an instrument and try to do it on her “own” if you will. But thats just me 🙂 Little do we realise that eventually someone’s got to crack. I know that I could only take so much before I said “fuck it — I’m rich” and disappear out of the public eye.
And little do we realise that this could be happening. Do you REALLY want to be the person whose irascible comments caused someone to quit doing what they love? Because eventually it will happen. Celebrities have internet access too. And I think they read a lot more about themselves than they should. Eventually someone is going to crack. I for one don’t want to be one of the people that makes someone feel so awful that they question their whole career.
Maybe you can live with that, but I can’t.